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Looking for Love: Understanding What You Need

Looking for love and finding frustration instead? Follow these five steps to increase your chances of finding lasting happiness.

3. Identify Your Love Pattern

So how do we go about finding the kind of person who can meet our emotional needs and share our core values? Experts say we should look for clues in the good relationships we already have with friends and family members.

"Think about relationships you've had -- or currently have -- that bring out the best in you," says psychologist Dennis Lowe, PhD, founding director of the Center for the Family at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles and a professor of psychology."Think about the relationships in which you have felt you could grow and the ones that left you feeling fulfilled. Not just romantic relationships, but any relationships with family and with friends."

Also important: Think about the people who make you feel safe and secure, the people with whom you can be yourself. Eventually, he says, a pattern of personality traits will begin to emerge. Not coincidentally, these will be the same traits that will serve you best in a romantic partner.

"You are looking for not only character traits, but also ways of relating to you, and you to them. Look for what has worked in previous relationships," Lowe tells WebMD.

White agrees: "In the end, it's often the people around whom you feel the most comfortable that possess the kind of traits you need for a lasting partnership."

4. Test Drive a Potential Relationship

Looking inside yourself can help prepare you for a successful relationship, but eventually you must apply what you've discovered -- and begin seeking a partner. Unfortunately, it's at this point where many of us make some heart-breaking mistakes.

One of the most common mistakes: Believing that a person whose looks and personality you like also possesses the important qualities you need for a long-term relationship -- before you really know the person.

"There's something called cognitive dissonance -- meaning your head believes one thing and your heart believes something else. When you are in the throes of those toe-curling tingles, believe me, your heart is going to overrule your head every time," says relationship coach and matchmaker Melissa Darnay, author of Dating 101.

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